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Loyal MPs claim speech will send the plotters packing; LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE.

GORDON Brown's North East supporters have hailed "the best speech in 25 years" and warned anyone plotting a leadership challenge that they have no choice but to "disappear for years".

North MPs last night said the Prime Minister had finally shown to the public "the qualities we see in him all the time".

The PM's long-time friend and Minister for the North East Nick Brown said he was convinced his boss had successfully united the party in what had been billed as his "speech of a lifetime".

The Newcastle East and Wallsend MP said: "An utterly deserved standing ovation.

I have been going to conference for 25 years and that was one of the best speeches I have ever heard. I never thought there was a real challenge, I think only a handful of MPs were whipping up reaction in the newspapers but there was never any wide support for them.

"And I say again to the few MPs trying to rock the boat, now they had better pack it in."

Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland was another who chose to play down the risk to the premier as his allies try to shift the focus on to the battle with the Conservatives.

"I never accepted that there was a real threat to him, there were one or two who may have considered a move but I don't think there has ever been the possibility of him being forced out and that is even more true now.

"We have seen over the last 11 years the strength that we now need and he is the man to get us through these difficult times."

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said the public had finally seen his "strength of character" and seen off any potential leadership challenge.

"I thought it was a really strong speech and perfect for the situation. He set out a clear difference between ourselves and the Tories and we have shown how the fairness agenda is fundamental to us as a party.

"I thought the fairness in our DNA part really resonated throughout us."

Sharon Hodgson, Gateshead East and Washington West MP, said the PM's focus on health and families would help the Labour party win back voters' confidence.

She said: "People often unfairly compare him to Tony Blair, but I think today he rose to that. The policies announced, such as access to cancer drugs, are incredible.

I have had people writing to me about the cost of having cancer, the real financial cost, and it is just fantastic news.

"Our long term care plan is another that will make such a difference a real difference to people's lives. Hand in hand with getting people into work is providing free nursery places and today he has shown he has the bigger picture."

Asked if she believed the PM's position was now safe, she repeated the line among North East MPs that the rebellion was very much on the fringe of the party and not reflected among the majority.

"America is going to get a new president this year and they will be looking to Gordon for guidance on the economy.

The last thing they need is a novice messing up the financial stability.

"If there was any chance of a leadership contest he has given a speech that will force them to put any ambition to sleep for a few years."

"I say again to the few MPs trying to rock the boat, now they had better pack it in
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Article Type:Conference news
Date:Sep 24, 2008
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